The Minnesota Wild will be without a member of their top line this weekend. Dane Mizutani of The Pioneer Press reports that right wing Mats Zuccarello is out with an upper-body injury and won’t play in their games against the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues this weekend.
Zuccarello, now 35, is second on the Wild in scoring and is again producing at over a point-per-game pace after doing so for the first time in his career last season. His 16 goals, 24 assists, and 40 points are all second on the team behind linemate Kirill Kaprizov, who is heading to the 2023 NHL All-Star Game in South Florida, as announced last night.
However, Mizutani also reports that the Wild will get gritty winger Brandon Duhaime back in the lineup, who hasn’t played since American Thanksgiving. It doesn’t appear to be a long-term absence for Zuccarello, who Mizutani says hopes to re-join the team for next week’s road trip to New York.
- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is out tonight against the Winnipeg Jets, although it’s for a positive reason. Lightning beat writer Chris Krenn notes that Hedman has returned to Tampa and is expecting the birth of his family’s second child over the next few days. Mikhail Sergachev, who actually leads all Lightning blueliners in points, steps up to the top pairing in Hedman’s absence.
- After playing the first half of the season in the AHL, Winnipeg Jets 2022 first-round pick Brad Lambert could head to junior hockey for the first time in North America. Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek expects Lambert to end up with the top-ranked Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL “at some point” this weekend. Lambert has struggled somewhat in his post-draft season after seeing his stock fall heavily out of the top five, as he posted just one point in five games at the 2023 World Junior Championship and managed three points in 14 games with Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose.